Monday, May 15, 2017

"The Truth About Who We Are..."

Casey, Communications Specialist, Portland, Oregon

by thegaymenproject

photos by Kevin Truong

Casey, in his own words: "Being queer to me means living the life I was meant to live without reservation. I spent so much time being reserved about myself that I feel like I wasted time. Being queer is kind of a ‘fuck you’ to this big hetero-normative world we live in where you are controlled by expectation.

I’ve had great success at finding a really amazing queer family, but within that I’ve learned to come to terms with the relative narrowness of my own experience and to respect other people more. I only know how to do me, but you know what? I love it. Tight jeans, big hair, and a mild obsession with Tonya Harding. The challenge I think is approaching this diverse community of queens and queers with enough compassion and respect to leave room for everyone to feel totally accepted.

Gay life in Portland is lively but small. I think after spending the last ten years here and being recently single, you realize how incestuous it can feel. For dating, that is. The community is fantastic. There are so many radical and wild people doing amazing performance art and throwing these really avant-garde parties and it’s mixed. Boys and girls. The lesbians and the gays in Portland get along really well and collaborate a lot. I think that’s rare to find in a lot of other cities and it lends itself to creating some really amazing artistic experiences.

When I was a little boy I was very effeminate. Before I even knew I was gay, people would call me a faggot and laugh at me and push me down. That stuck with me for a while and it made me feel ashamed to come out and really embrace myself. When I was a junior in high school though, I spent a year as an exchange student in Brazil. Being taken out of my own element like that really helped me grow. I came back thinking “You know what? Fuck this, I’m gay and I don’t care what you people think”. So I started coming out to people when I was 17. I told most of my family when I was 18, and they were all really cool about it. Actually I’ve never had a bad reaction to coming out to anyone, even as I continue to do so with new people I meet. Maybe part of that is living on the west coast, but people are always fine with it.

If I could give my younger self advice it would be to ignore the expectations of people whose opinions mean nothing. Don’t be afraid to shock or offend just because you’re in women’s clothes or your voice is high pitched. Just keep looking up and being as wild and queer as your heart desires, because that is your truth and it will totally set you free."

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